EDGE OF TOMORROW review by Mark Walters – Tom Cruise has a sci-fi GROUNDHOG DAY

EDGE OF TOMORROW review by Mark Walters – Tom Cruise has a sci-fi GROUNDHOG DAY

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It’s interesting that an actor like Tom Cruise, who at one point was very particular about the roles he chose, even going so far as to pass on what could have been big money parts, has lately been appearing in more high concept and daring cinematic fare. ROCK OF AGES and OBLIVION come to mind, the latter of which I thought was highly overlooked. Cruise also seems open to doing Sci-Fi movies, such as MINORITY REPORT and WAR OF THE WORLDS, and regardless of what kind of movie he’s in you know he’s always guaranteed to give 110% to the role. His newest unexpected effort is EDGE OF TOMORROW, originally titled ALL YOU NEED IS KILL and based on the Hiroshi Sakurazaka novel of the same name.

The story opens explaining how the world was attacked by an alien force, and while many areas of Earth have seen mass destruction, the government is constantly encouraging armies to jump into the field and fight the threatening creatures, which are definitely formidable. Major William Cage (Cruise) is a spokesman for the military, going on camera with various forms of media and suggesting people join the fight. He’s called into a meeting by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), who tells Cage he too must go into battle. After a failed escape attempt, Will finds himself force-ably put into a squad of soldiers led by Master Sergeant Farell (Bill Paxton). Outfitted with a high-tech and heavily-armed mech suit, Cage and the others find their helicarrier going down above a beach in the middle of the war. Within the chaos and in a last-ditch effort of heroism, Will destroys a particularly special alien warrior… along with himself. But as quickly as he dies, he wakes up back at the base where Farell is welcoming him. Cage’s day has started over, and everything is playing out the exact same way. He once again meets his fellow troops, once again finds himself on that helicarrier, once again crashes down to the beach, and seems to be the only one who realizes he’s reliving the exact same series of events. Eventually he meets a Special Forces soldier named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who is quite literally a poster girl for aspiring warriors. Rita knows what’s going on with Will, and reveals it’s happened to her too. Now the two of them must work together and try to bring an end to this war, no matter how many times Cage has to die and relive the same day over and over.

The obvious comparison to make here is a film like GROUNDHOG DAY or perhaps even SOURCE CODE, as those movies also involve a man reliving the same day over and over again until he finds a way to get it right. It’s easy to call EDGE OF TOMORROW a sci-fi take on that theme, and while that’s mostly true, the wraparound story is what makes this an interesting and fun ride. It’s also a pretty obvious take on video game culture, involving the heavily-armed mech suit, and playing a level over and over until you win. There’s also a more scientific and alien explanation given as to why the events are taking place, and the fact it’s happened to someone else also makes things a little more unique. Cruise has fun playing the unintentional hero who isn’t exactly tough and smooth, but rather finds advantages in the routine of it all. It’s one of the more “normal” guy roles he’s played in a while, despite the not-so-normal setting. And as usual, he gives it his all, finding ways to make Cage a likable protagonist. Emily Blunt is less successful as the love interest and more experienced of the two leads. She does fine playing the highly-skilled tough girl of the piece, but she’s just not as interesting of a character, and by the time we discover the origins of her cold personality it just isn’t as satisfying. I hate to say it, but her character was written in a way that it could have been played by any number of less-impressive actresses. Also know this, I love Blunt, and I’ve seen her be terrific in other roles, but this one just doesn’t have it. The supporting cast has some great faces in it, like Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson, and there’s some nice moments of comedy mixed throughout the film which helps keep it from taking itself too seriously.

Doug Liman does a great job directing the action, and keeping things understandable for the audience. The creatures in the movie are interesting design-wise, though their frenetic movement can be little frustrating to watch. Thankfully they slow down enough to get a good look at their demon-like faces, which are pretty unsettling. I imagine there could have been more story added to explain just what prompted the attack to begin with, but thankfully we’re put in the middle of the action quickly enough to where it’s not a huge deal. Perhaps the only weakness of EDGE OF TOMORROW is its final 30 minutes, which drags a bit in places, and comes very close to overstaying its welcome. Overall it’s a fun ride, and a great popcorn flick for summer moviegoers. This will never be called one of Tom Cruise’s more “cerebral” films, not by a long shot, but maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

EDGE OF TOMORROW is set to hit 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters on June 6, 2014.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community’s leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.